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article by college student on the environmental impacts of meat-eating

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  • CyberBrook
    http://www.universityregister.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=945&Itemid=29 College Veg in the Reg Print
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2009

      College Veg in the Reg Print

      Written by Katie Setzer
      /The University Register/, Sunday, 01 February 2009
      While many people associate vegetarian and vegan diets with animal
      rights concerns, far fewer consider the environmental impacts of a
      vegetarian diet. The current methods of meat and dairy production
      greatly contribute to land degradation, clear cutting, climate change,
      water shortage, water pollution, loss of biodiversity, and air pollution.

      The Sierra Club estimates that one pound of vegetarian-fed beef requires
      16 pounds of grain and an estimated 2,500 to 5,000 gallons of water.
      Growing all that grain to feed farm animals requires land. Over 260
      million acres of forest in the United States have been cleared for this
      purpose. Meat production also contributes to soil erosion, which is
      crucial to land integrity and water filtration. According to Worldwatch
      Institute, the meat industry is directly responsible for 85 percent of
      soil erosion in the United States.

      Eating one pound of meat is the greenhouse gas equivalent of driving an
      SUV forty miles. A United Nations report released in 2006 stated that
      the meat industry is responsible for more carbon emitted than every
      single car on the road, every single plane in the sky, and every train
      on the tracks combined. Noam Mohr notes in his EarthSave report entitled
      "A New Global Warming Strategy: How Environmentalists are Overlooking
      Vegetarianism as the Most Effective Tool Against Climate Change in Our
      Lifetime" that methane is 21 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than
      carbon dioxide. The meat industry is the number one producer of methane.
      Human-produced carbon dioxide accounts for less than five percent of
      natural sources, while human-produced methane is 150 percent. In
      addition, carbon dioxide emissions have only risen roughly a third since
      the pre-industrial age while in comparison, methane emissions have
      doubled. Mohr, a Yale physicist, is an environmentalist who has
      researched for USPIRG and EarthSave, and calls on those wishing to
      reduce climate change and their carbon footprint to consider adopting a
      vegan or vegetarian diet rather than concentrate on energy efficiency
      and reduction.

      According to John Robbins, author of The Food Revolution, half of the
      world fresh water supply is used in meat production in one way or
      another. Robbins goes onto say that one pound of grain uses less than
      one one-hundredth of the water used to produced one pound of meat. A
      choice to opt out of eating a pound of beef is the water saving
      equivalent of not showering for a year. In addition to water waste, meat
      production also contributes to water pollution.

      Water runoff from factory farms pollutes rivers with toxic amounts of
      feces laden with growth hormones and antibiotics. Antibiotics in fresh
      water sources pose a health threat because of the development of
      "superbugs." Pharmaceutical companies must race in order to create
      stronger and stronger antibiotics while doctors prescribe higher doses
      because of the simple natural selection of bacteria placed in cesspool
      breeding grounds laced with the same antibiotics at your local pharmacy.
      The EPA claims that animal feces from farms have been responsible for
      the pollution of 35,000 miles of river in the United States.

      In addition to feces, growth hormones and antibiotics, fertilizers used
      to grow grain for meat production in run-off create sky-rocketing
      populations of algae, causing "dead zones" in oceans, lakes and rivers
      and reducing biodiversity.

      The problem is not that people eat meat. The problem lies in the way
      most meat is produced on a large scale, and the large portions of meat
      that first world countries eat. Eating meat is a luxury. In the US,
      where the quarter pounder is practically a cultural staple, it's hard to
      realize what the effects of excessive meat consumption are. Currently,
      around forty percent of the world's grain supply is used to feed farm
      animals. Harvard nutritionist, Jean Meyer estimated that a one-tenth
      reduction in meat consumption would leave enough grain to feed 60
      million people. One billion go hungry each day. The effects of meat
      consumption are both far-reaching and profound.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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